Productivity surges after electrical company updates control room technology

The Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation (MTEMC) knew it needed to update its 24/7 control room monitoring system in order to more efficiently serve its members and increase productivity while also keeping costs in check. MTEMC distributes electricity to about 200,000 residential and business members in a four-county area south of Nashville. Formed in 1936, MTEMC is the state’s largest electric cooperative and the sixth largest in the United States.

MTEMC‘s existing control room video wall was seven years old and the light engines were nearing their end-of-life. Chip Pinion, systems control supervisor, MTEMC, says of the old video wall, “The wall was pretty static, from our perspective. There wasn’t a whole lot we could do with it – as far as change layouts, or change different things we’d like to put up on the screens. We were limited on sources and things we could do, so we began to look at different options.”  Additionally, Pinion notes that in the previous five years, the control center has been elevated to a primary command and decision-making room; bringing decisions into the control center that would have previously been made at the area office level.

With that, MTEMC began to consider how its existing video wall could become more dynamic with features including changeable layouts and additional sources that would facilitate critical decision-making at a higher level. MTEMC worked with several companies including rp Visual Solutions (RPV) and Christie® to install a video wall that would enable 24/7 monitoring of over 10,000 miles of energized line covering 2,100 square miles of service territory.

“We began to think bigger picture. Ultimately we wanted a wall that would be more dynamic for us, for use day-in, day-out depending on the need of the operator, or when our management or operations team needed to see something specific as it related to an outage,” says Pinion.

MTEMC’s control room video wall

MTEMC consulted with RPV to design and provide a new video wall. Specializing in 24/7 displays and priding itself on over ten years of personalized service, rp Visual Solutions performed a needs analysis and Randy Pagnan, president of RPV, concluded that while the architecture of the room was still functional, a technology refresh would bring the control room in line with MTEMC’s vision. RPV’s analysis recommended the installation of eight Christie Entero HB SXGA+ rear projection engines and eight Christie Phoenix systems to power a 2x4 video wall.

Christie LED light engines provide 100,000 hours of high-brightness illumination with no scheduled maintenance for five years, thereby ensuring the reliability of the system in 24/7 environments that cannot afford any downtime. Additionally, the Christie Entero HB series is the first and only control room display to offer wireless control through Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing users to control the wall or perform diagnostic monitoring through a wireless device.

John Brereton, director of operations at RPV, says that upgrading the processor for the control room was determined a priority. “What we looked forward to with the Christie Phoenix was adding additional outputs, as well as a network based solution that allowed us to input and export data from the command wall to field elements, the overview command room and to users in other locations, and allow us to bring that data rapidly and clearly to the display board element when needed.”

With seamless access and control of audiovisual data, Christie Phoenix® lets users simultaneously monitor, listen to and interact with any audio or video source from anywhere. Christie Phoenix systems, including Phoenix, Phoenix EP and Phoenix Quad T, streamline project designs and eliminate the need for audiovisual distribution equipment, which simplifies the installation process.

Christie Phoenix supports direct integration with Milestone Systems XProtect®, a leading open platform IP video management software (VMS). Christie Phoenix obtains H.264 camera data directly from the XProtect recording server, and automated video wall control is initiated from the XProtect event server. Christie Phoenix is easy to integrate with XProtect, creating a unified solution for video management and control room operations. Users benefit with improved reaction time, simplified control and reduced training.

The operations center is now able to display data from multiple sources including MTEMC’s Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, the outage management system, as well as weather maps and a cable television feed. MTEMC also uses the wall for after-hours security monitoring of its substations.

Pinion notes the changing needs of the wall from the day to night shift, saying, “During the day, we have crews working and we have one wall layout that fits well, but when you go into the afternoon and evening hours when everyone goes home, we’re coming into more of a monitoring mode. Based on who’s working, or what groups are working, we can dynamically change the wall to fit their needs.”

In addition to meeting MTEMC’s changing display needs from day to night, Pinion says that regardless of the light levels in the room “it does not change the clarity of what we see on the wall.”

The increased functionality also opens the door for more expansive communication with users from other locations, including field elements, while the additional outputs of the Christie system allow data to be brought more quickly and clearly to the display board.

With plans for expansion on the horizon, Pinion shares that the potential for another, larger operations center is on the horizon. “We just purchased 150 acres outside of Murfreesboro, and we’re looking to build a brand new campus in the next 5 years, with a new operations center and a new display wall twice as big as this new one.”

Pinion explains that Christie has met not only the technology needs of the MTEMC, but cost needs as well, resulting in a high-quality system that they’re very happy with.

The control room has become somewhat of an attraction, according to Pinion. “Our president [Chris Jones] takes major pride in this control room. We have community events and utility events that come in. Every time we have a group in, our president always makes sure they come into the control room,” he says laughing, and adds, “But as great as this room is, the next might be even better!”

To see a video of this control room in action, click here.

Visit controlrooms.christiedigital.com for more information. 


About Christie

Christie Digital Systems USA, Inc. is a global visual and audio technologies company and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ushio, Inc., Japan, (JP:6925). Consistently setting the standards by being the first to market some of the world’s most advanced projectors and complete system displays, Christie is recognized as one of the most innovative visual technology companies in the world. From retail displays to Hollywood, mission critical command centers to classrooms and training simulators, Christie display solutions and projectors capture the attention of audiences around the world with dynamic and stunning images. Visit www.christiedigital.com for more information.